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On the Road

by Ross Douthat

A few years ago, I noted the oddity that one of the best action directors working had yet to make a straightforward action film, preferring to deploy his skills in the realm of genre parody instead. That director was Edgar Wright, an Englishman responsible for Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End, each of them a send-up of a different action-packed genre — the zombie flick, the Bruckheimerian cop movie, the alien-invasion film — and each starring the same Anglo-thespian odd couple, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, as ordinary blokes going guns blazing through scenarios usually tailored for a Schwarzenegger or Willis or Keanu.

Now Wright has finally made an action flick for real. That means it’s set in America (the land of all true action flicks), it features bank robberies (necessarily), it has an awful lot of irresponsible fast driving, inevitably choreographed to a (one would hope) lovingly selected rock soundtrack, and it culminates in that inevitable action-movie situation — the guy who’s planning to head west on the open road with his girlfriend as soon as he survives one . . . last . . . job.

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